Statistics show that today there are over 1. 7 billion members of the so called “consumer class”- half of them being in the developing world (2011, the World Watch Institute). Being part of the consumer class myself, I believe it is crucial to dispense a great deal of money on goods and services to better the economy here in Canada. Does this mean that people can call me a consumer because of my views on world consumption? Yes, because I fit into the category of a consumer due to the fact that I am part of the endless cycle of supply and demand.
From the moment I leave my house and walk the two minutes to the bus stop I’m already thinking about what I am going to buy. When I embark on the crowded bus I am immediately surrounded by other consumers like me and it’s at this time that I consider about how I have overspent on goods in the past, made up excuses as to why I need certain items and ultimately, my fear of being left out. During the time that I traveled the world, I realized how consumerism takes on different shapes and sizes.
A few years ago when I visited Hungary, my relatives were shocked by the amount of money I spent to fund my trip. “You spent how much on WHAT!? my relatives exclaimed when they found out I had spent over 150$ on ice cream alone. Not counting the other ridiculous amounts I spent on food, there was also gifts for my family back home and countless nonsense that I had bought for myself. I was even asked, upon purchasing snacks at a local grocery store, if I was preparing for an apocalypse. I’m taken aback by how different the views on consumerism are for people living in a developing country compared to a first world country like Canada.
I only noticed how unacceptable my addiction to consumerism is when it was time to pack my luggage for the flight home and I wasn’t able to it everything and thus I’m forced to leave nearly 70$ worth of goods behind. It was the first time where I legitimately felt unintelligent with what I was spending my money on and my relatives to this day make no shortage of teasing me about it. Upon arriving home my immediate family is thrilled and call it “Christmas in July” when they spot all of the goodies I brought whereas my relatives were upset and said that it is: “a waste of hard earned money”. When I take a moment to think about what measures I do to make me cheerful, I understand that I make up a mass amount of excuses to have a reason for why|| consume so much.
I spend thousands of dollars a year on possessions that I believe make me joyful. Clothes, food, venues, electronics, it all adds up at the end of the day, to lots of stuff that we think make us glad but don’t necessarily. We always hear from our elders who are trying to protect us from this world of consumerism: “why would you spend extreme amounts of money on these things? ” | personally hate hearing this being that as much as I don’t want to admit it, they are right, for this reason I make up excuses: “oh I need it for school, or work”, and even lying by saying “it was on sale” when it actually wasn’t just to get them off my back.
Lying to a family member makes me feel guilty and therefore I blame consumerism for my guilt, not my happiness. My true happiness comes from being with loved ones, it’s better than any trip I can take around the world. The memories I have from my childhood: Going to the park, playing board games or just conversing in general, I gain the idea that no matter what excuse ill make up for the things | buy, my family is telling me to stop and rethink as of a result of them seeing how much excitement I had when I was just a child and not a consumer.
Furthermore, I have noticed that the main reason I consume is due to I feel intimidated by other consumers. My biggest phobia is feeling left out, and therefore ! feel required to have the same things as other consumer with similar traits as me to feel “up to date”. Its only when I go out in public, look around and then if I can say to myself “I Have the same style of clothing as that person, or my cell phone is just as powerful as theirs” that I feel involved in society.
Knowing that I feel involved makes me feel happier since I believe that I am a role model for others. I constantly annoy my siblings by telling them to go shopping as well and I recommend them to buy certain brands. I consume tons for the sake of being a role model for them as well, it puts the biggest smile on my face when I hear one of my siblings talk about how great I dress to one of their friends. It’s from this addiction to happiness that results in consuming greater than I may need to feel more involved.
When I feel intimidated I need happiness, to cheer me up and my way out of it is to consume, for some people its cigarettes to deal with stress, for me its consume to be pleased. Therefore, we consumers all share a common view about consumerism which is work, make money, and then spend money. We all have an addiction to consume to bring us what we think is our happiness, occasionally this addiction even consumes us entirely and we have nothing left. It’s the vicious cycle of supply and demand, we believe our happiness comes from spending bulks of money and then asking for even more.